Showing posts from December, 2015

New Zealand Wars, Land Wars, Māori Wars?

Last week a group of Otorohanga College students presented a petition to Parliament calling for a national day of memorial to remember the wars fought on New Zealand’s own shores. It is a cause I support and the petition, which attracted over 10,000 signatures (including mine), and its handover attracted significant media interest. But one thing that caught my eye was the description used in media reports for the wars themselves. Many referred to these as the ‘ Land Wars ’, the ‘ New Zealand Land Wars ’ or even the ‘ Māori Land Wars ’. There appeared to be little awareness on the part of journalists that what historians have called the wars has changed over time. Do labels really matter? Well, they do because they convey some key messages about the nature of the wars, their causes and participants. To begin with it was common to refer to this series of conflicts as ‘the Māori Wars’. That was consistent with the British tendency to name wars after their enemies, like the Boer War, the